March 20, 2011

Concerts #228, 262- Chris Smither at McCabe's Guitar Shop (August 12, 2000 - February 8, 2002)

My musical radar works quite well at low elevations, but nonetheless, every so often someone big manages to fly under it and pass undetected for a long time. Chris Smither is a perfect example. He's a brilliant songwriter and a virtuoso guitar player, delivers songs like few others, so how come it took me decades to discover him? I don't know, you may want to ask the clowns in charge of radio and TV programming.

I'm not sure I know what made me buy a ticket to see Chris at McCabe's, but once I had the ticket in hand, I had to start researching his music - I went to the now-sadly-defunct Aaron's Records in Hollywood, bought Chris' just-released CD titled "Live As I'll Ever Be" and gave it a listen or two before showing up at McCabe's. Trouble is I focused too much on Chris' voice, so at that time I certainly couldn't call myself a fan. Obviously, I wasn't prepared for what followed - Chris knocked my socks off, to put it mildly.

My jaw dropped when he played "Dust My Broom" and "High Heel Sneakers", but his own songs were equally good. I loved everything about his performance: his ballads and power songs, his humor and humble demeanor, but most of all, his unique style of guitar playing. Even his less-than-stellar voice became in no time "music to my ears", just like it had happened years earlier with Richard Thompson's vocals.

This video shows Chris Smither bending his strings to produce a sound that is uniquely his:

I went back to see him again in February 2002, also at McCabe's, but this time I took two friends with me, Ken and Marilyn - there's no better feeling than surprising my music-loving friends with someone as good as Chris Smither. 

There was an opening act, Louise Taylor, a singer-songwriter who did not leave a lasting impression.

Chris started his set with "Link Of Chain", followed by, in no particular order, "No Love Today", "Get A Better One", "Hold On", "Drive You Home Again", J.J. Cale's "Magnolia", "Frankie and Albert", "Dust My Broom", the "High Heel Sneakers- Big Boss Man Medley", "Duncan And Brady", "Love You Like A Man", "Can’t Shake These Blues", "Winsome Smile", "I Am The Ride", "Drive You Home Again" and maybe a few more. Wow, what a set list.
With these two shows, Chris Smither established himself as one of my most beloved musicians. 

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